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Just Between Frames

Our Take On: "True Grit" [2010]

True Grit graphic

Before ending the Third Generation: Book—To—Film—To—Remake, the group switched to viewing (and discussing) the remake, instead of the original and saw the 2010 version of True Grit. We found it to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule that was (at least) as well done as the original film.

One of the reasons for this, was that ironically, it was more consistent with the story elements from the book than the John Wayne version was. In both the book and the Cohen brothers’ version, the main protagonist is Mattie, not Rooster. And what a Mattie they got for this remake! We were all impressed with how believable this child of the 21st century was in playing 14 year-old Mattie, a young girl growing up in the Wild West of the 1880s. Between them, she and Jeff Bridges (as Rooster) dominate the film.

Matt Damon (La Boeuf) was good in what was very much a supporting role. We discussed how his character could almost be eliminated from the story for some of us, but others felt he helped to show other sides of the main characters. It was also impressive to see such a well-known actor fade into the background a little. It showed that Damon could avoid grand-standing, and truly be a supporting actor.

We felt the history of the times was better presented in this version of the films of True Grit. The setting and sites used felt like they were real places, as they would have been, in the Old West. The John Wayne version, is a bit too similar to all the other TV and movie Westerns that were a more “Hollywood-ized” version of the west. 

We did feel however, that one scene – and it’s the big one – where Rooster confronts and rides down on Ned Pepper and his gang, is owned by John Wayne. Once you’ve seen that iconic ride, with Wayne riding full out with the reins in his teeth and his shotguns ready, you don’t forget it. It raises Rooster to the level of Old West Legend. We also liked the look in Wayne’s eye in that seen: a combination of ferocious joy and wrath.

We thought the transitions in how all three (Mattie, Rooster, and LaBoeuf) saw each other as the film progressed was very well-done. Both the good and the bad sides of all three were addressed, which again, kept the film real for the group.

We weren’t sure how well we liked the ending. It was great to see the grown up Mattie – and to see the consequences of Rooster’s wild ride to get her to a doctor. This helped to keep the story real and believable. (It also made up – somewhat – for Little Blackie.) We loved the put-down to Cole Younger – it was a great way to show that Mattie hasn’t changed, or given up voicing her opinions. Our concern was that we’d hoped for a better reunion for Mattie and Rooster, and all of us hope she will be meeting up with LaBoeuf someday.

In all, we felt this was a worthy film to end with for our Book-To-Film-To-Remake series. Given the wonderful performance by Hailee Steinfeld, it also paves the way for our next series: Never Work with Children or Animals.

First up on April 25th at 6:00 p.m. will be the film The Black Stallion based on Walter Farley’s classic novel. It has outstanding performances by both kids and of course, “The Black”!

Related Links about True Grit to Explore:

Read the Book! Click here to go to our copy in the Lisle Library collection.

The New York Times Review of the Book

Roger Ebert's Review of True Grit [1969] with John Wayne

Roger Ebert's Review of True Grit [2010] with Jeff Bridges

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